Thursday, December 27, 2012

Catching up and a few recommendations

Happy Holiday wishes to everyone. With the last minute rush of sewing, shopping, wrapping, cooking and general merriment I am far behind in my posting. I want to thank everyone for all your lovely comments this past year, particularly on my last two projects and I appreciate your participation in the sewing blog universe. I regularly read tons of blogs and while I don't always comment I am amazed at the creativity and talent out there. I have said it before but I think the web has changed sewing from a singular pursuit to a collective one with feedback, advice, information and inspiration. A positive development that some days has taken a good chunk of time I could have spent actually making something - but I would not trade it for the world.
The amazing Carolyn of Handmade by Carolyn, whose writing and sense of humor are equally lofty as the quality of her sewing, passed on this Blog Award to me three weeks ago so it is time I acknowledge that and share some thoughts with you.
The blog award terms being one should reveal some things about themself and pass on the award to some other lovely blogs. I was thinking about the intersection of sewing blogs and friendship. At this point I feel I have lots of far flung friends who share common interests, with the unfortunate circumstance that we are not often (or ever) in the same room so we can't enjoy the back and forth of a real converstion, much as we might try via comments or e-mail. When you are with your "in-person" friends what do you talk about?  For me it usually includes the latest doings of family and friends plus local news. It could include politics, recipes, travel, sports, recent annoyances, unexpected thrills, sometimes sadnesses and future plans. Usually some recommendations for things that each thinks the other might like. After all, where do you hear about the great restaurants, a new fabric shop, a yet undiscovered wine, a fantastic book just finished?  From your pals, whether near or far.  So I will reveal a few things about myself via these lists of my favorites in several categories.  

Sewing is a hands on pursuit - which leaves plenty of time for listening. I am currently obsessed with podcasts, they are fantastic for accompaniment to sewing or gym workouts.
  • podcasts, just about all of them. My favs are the Political Gabfest, Double X Gabfest, Culture Gabfest, Hang Up and Listen, Lexicon Valley, and The Movie Spoiler podcasts. 
  • Planet Money Podcasts from NPR.  Learned so much about economics from these.
  • Stuff you Missed in History Podcast, from the How Stuff site. I don't download these just listen in Itunes.
There was a phase of foreign movie viewing, not done much lately but here are some of my all time favorites.  If you are looking for something to add to your movie queue, for your consideration:
  • Eat, Drink, Man, Woman, in Chinese, directed by Ang Lee who went on to much bigger movies but this family story is so touching.
  • Amelie.   A bit of a chick flick - French and makes me long for a Parisian cafe.
  • Waking Ned Devine. Ireland, in English. some of the characters are ringers for family members so this movie hits me right in the heart.
  • Dear Frankie.  Scotland. In English but that accent is tough for a california girl like me, a bit gritty and sometimes heartwrenching. First time I saw Gerald Butler who also went on to some very big movies but scruffily attractive here.
  • Cinema Paradiso. Years of studying Italian means that I could recommend many but this one is just so...perfect. 
Websites that steal my time.  There are no more hours in a day than there were ten years ago but now I find the time to websurf daily. These websites are sometimes silly, often snarky and totally entertaining to me.
  • Tom and Lorenzo,  self proclaimed Fabulous and Opinionated. Red carpet fashion critiques. My favorites are the "Girl that is not your Dress"posts. So often, so right.
  • CakeWrecks   I can't help myself, I look at this one every few days and often laugh out loud. And now scan the bakery counter in the grocery in case I find a cakewreck of my own.
  • Mrs-O   The first lady has style - I want her wardrobe (and height!)
Designers whose clothes I covet or want to copy.
  • Valentino:  the ultimate to me. Craftsmanship and fabrics beyond beautiful Also check out the documentary, Valentino: The Last Emperor.
  • Oscar De La Renta:    gorgeous, wish I had a lifestyle and the bank account to need one.
  • Michael Kors:    sometimes a bit too beige for me but the guy knows how to make simple shapes and details into great clothes.
  • Tori Richard:  line of resort wear from Hawaii. I would wear every single one of these sunny summer creations. I look for similar fabrics based on inspiration from this line.
  • Chanel: the designer Karl Lagerfeld is a windbag nutcase weirdo but the collections are fantastic, filled with fabrics and details that I want to recreate. 
Lastly but certainly not least, how about a book?  I have loved reading since the flashlight under the covers days (fondly remembering the Laura Ingalls Wilder series). Now I save up a lot of fiction for the summer months, I am one of those people than can sit on the beach, in the direct sun and read ALL DAY, with breaks for swimming and ice cream.  So here are just a few that have stayed with me forever. The kind of book that I almost wished were longer because they were so good. I am also a big fan of mysteries and so happy when I find a new and prolific author.
  • Possession by A.S. Byatt
  • The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustim Thomason
  • Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
  • Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
As for mysteries, there are a few series that I recommend.
  • The Inspector Morse series by Colin Dexter, my favorite mysteries. (best read in order or near to it).
  • Ngaio Marsh, she wrote about 70 books, same era and very much like Agatha Christie but often set in the theatre.
  • John Dunning, a series of mysteries about a used book seller which sounds like an odd premise but very good.
And now back to sewing stuff.  Reading sewing blogs is good for someone like me who is very sure of what I like or don't like - the opportunity to see what others have made with a pattern or fabric that I would not have chosen is great to get me out of my own bubble.  Having said that and in keeping with the theme of stuff I recommend, I am passing on the Lovely Blog award to these blogs. They often pick the patterns or fabrics that I would chose, so I often look to them for a little inspiration and to get the creativity moving.
Shannon of Mushywear:   She makes lots of New Look patterns which I also do and picks some fantastic colorful fabrics.  Plenty of sleeveless styles and she is a whiz with the knits. Tropical style with sophistication.  
Melanie of Seamstress: PoppyKettle.  She seems to love tailoring as much as I do and her analytical take on various sewing projects is so interesting.
Catherine of CatherineDaze's blog, one of my discoveries of the past year. Super interesting selections of dress styles, a great new winter white coat and always the chic short haircut - my kind of style...again if I were 6 inches taller :)
Sertyan of Sertyan's Sewing Corner.  Feminine and so cute. Mad Men style and it works on her. Makes me wish I still worked in a corporate office so I could make some of these clothes. (Ok not really but I admire them all the same).
Erin of I Heart Fabric.  In addition to making lots of fantastic things, (check out her Vogue patterns makes - look great on her) the blog she writes is really cool. 
Back to regular sewing posts shortly - the sun is shining and I need to get outside for some photos. I have made a few knit tops, as I mentioned previously finished 2 pairs of Sewaholic Thurlow pants and just completed a Lekala pattern (review in 2 words - I recommend!)  but more on the Lekala later. 
Happy almost New Year Sewing, Beth
and a SunnyGal garden photo of this pale green nicotiana that keeps on blooming despite the torrential rain.  Is it spring yet?

Nicotiana yellow


  1. Thanks for those interesting lists. Particularly the podcasts and books, most of which are new to me. Happy New Year, Beth!

  2. Thank you so much for those kind words Beth :) and also thanks for choosing to address the award in a unique new way!
    And not the least for those interesting lists; those are some crazy cool websites! I immediately hopped over to check out the tom and lorenzo (laugh!) and cake-wreck (extreme laugh!)

  3. Great to hear from you Beth! I should broaden my horizons and look up one of the movies or books you mentioned. Thanks for being so thoughtful with these very informative recommendations. And thank you so much for award, I really appreciate it! Can't wait to see all of your new creations! Enjoy the rest of the year!

  4. Hey Beth! Thank you so much for your recommendation that was so lovely of you. I hope you had a fantastic Christmas and enjoy your new year celebrations. I look forward to reading your blog next year you are a real inspiration! I just am so honoured that you like my blog. Xoxo

  5. I LOVE the Slate podcasts. Especially Culture and Political gabfests! And, David K. from Planet Money used to live here in Baltimore. I get a kick everytime I hear him reporting.

  6. Thanks Beth! And lots of lovely new things to check out :-)

  7. What a wonderful blog post. I agree with Catherine, great to be introduced to new-to-me blogs. And, oh, Laura Ingalls! I, too, read those voraciously as a child. I also love Remains of the Day (wept on a picnic blanket, reading it) and Possession. Really interesting to hear your thoughts on designers and ... ooh, it's all interesting! You always put so much thought into everything.

  8. I'm so going to look up those movies and books and blogs! Thanks for sharing them, Beth!

    Happy new year to you too!

  9. Happy New Year! Thanks for the link to that Cake Wreck site - gross and hilarious - love it!

  10. What a great catch-up! Cinema Paradiso is such a wonderful film. I am afraid to watch it again in case it loses it's magic :-) Happy 2013 to you.

  11. What a great list of wonderful stuff, several of which we share, but several new to try. Looking forward to more of your blog in 2013. Have a wonderful new year!

  12. Wow Beth - thankyou! It means so much more to me because I totally love reading you blog. I'm a big fan of your pattern and fabric choices too :) I also love what you've done with this post - so many new things to try out. You're totally right - what else are friends for? :)

  13. Happy New Year, Beth! Thanks for your recommendation that are very interesting to me. I need to check out those new-to-me blogs immediately!

  14. Aloha Beth! Thank you so much for mentioning us and we are truly humbled that we can be an inspiration for you. Our Spring 2013 collection will be available in a couple weeks so be on the lookout for it. We have a few new styles and we've brought back more vintage prints, one from 1958... Keep up the great work!

    Tori Richard, Ltd.